Blues women earn comeback victory over Windsor

Five different players scored for Toronto

Blues women earn comeback victory over Windsor

Supporters turned out to watch the Blues women’s hockey team kick off their regular season in fantastic fashion on Saturday night, as the squad posted a 5–3 comeback victory over the Windsor Lancers. It was a true team effort for the Blues, as five different players scored and 10 recorded points on the evening.

Toronto dug themselves into a hole early, as Windsor fired off two quick goals in the first four minutes. The Blues caught a tough break later on in the period, as Taylor Trussler and Louie Bieman were sent to the box for minor penalties about a minute apart. Amy Maitre was quick to take advantage of Windsor’s five on three advantage, converting on powerplay to put the Lancers up 3–0 with five minutes remaining in the first.

Maitre’s goal proved to be the last for the Lancers, however, and Toronto remained poised, relying on its veteran leadership and the strength of its forecheck to counter Windsor’s chippy, physical play. Stephanie Ayre’s goal from Trussler and Mathilde de Serres with about 30 seconds left in the frame was “really big” for the Blues, said Bieman, proving to energize both players and fans alike as the Blues headed into the first intermission down 3–1.

The latter two periods were all Blues, as Toronto scored four unanswered goals between the two periods to put the game away. The home side upped its intensity on their forecheck and absolutely dominated the second period, with the visiting Lancers struggling to even advance the puck past the centre line out of their own zone. Lauren Straatman scored a powerplay goal on the back of some great puck movement from Cristine Chao and Louie Bieman to cut the lead to just one point with 12 and a half minutes to go in the second, while Kassie Roache tipped in a beauty feed from Jana Headrick just three minutes later to tie it up at three apiece.

The Blues came storming out of the gates in the third, bringing fans to their feet as de Serres buried the go-ahead goal off an Ayres rebound just a minute into the period. Bieman provided the insurance marker with six minutes left in the game, showing off some nifty stick work to deke out the Windsor tender right in front of the crease and making it 5–3 Blues.

Coach Vicky Sunohara was pleased with her team’s ability to “keep composed,” and she credited the strength of the forecheck as well as the first line of Straatman, Bieman, and Roache, who “clicked well, passed the puck, and created a lot of chances.”

Fifth-year assistant captain Julia Szulewska gushed about her team’s performance under pressure. “You could just see it in our eyes that we wanted it more,” she said. “[The comeback] shows what kind of team we are. We don’t give up, and it was amazing to see.”

Second-year goalie Madeline Albert was solid, stopping 18 of 21 shots for the win.

Rebecca Bourgeois: looking back at a five-year hockey career

Blues women’s hockey captain talks memories, advice, and moving on

Rebecca Bourgeois: looking back at a five-year hockey career

Fifth-year Varsity Blues women’s hockey captain Rebecca Bourgeois recently completed her last season and played her final game in a blue and white jersey. As a Blues field hockey player, I was interested in learning her perspective on the student-athlete experience, being a role model, and moving on from her varsity team.

Bourgeois started this season knowing it would be her last. Five years felt like both a long and a short time for her. “I came in knowing I was going to do five years,” she said. “I don’t look back at being a rookie and think [that was] yesterday because that was a long time ago, but I’ll think back to instances like my first goal, or like a time in playoffs, or something that we did I’ll be like, ‘Oh wow, that was three years ago.’”

Over her five-year career, Bourgeois saw many of her close friends and teammates graduate, experiences she said helped her prepare for her final season. She remembered playing in her first grad game and the motivation she felt to play hard for her veteran teammates. “You see the emotions of them through those experiences, so it does prepare you, but that doesn’t mean that it’s any less nostalgic or bittersweet when it does come.”

Though she knew her varsity career would end this winter, “it’s still a shock, and it’s still sad.”

Playing Varsity Blues hockey was about more than just athletics and academics. Especially in her upper years, she realized her position as a role model for her teammates and also for the community. She looked up to varsity players while growing up in Ottawa. “I remember going to university games… and being like, ‘Wow, these are pretty much professional athletes’ and getting signatures — and now kids come and we sign papers for them. It’s cool to have that platform to be able to do meaningful things.”

This year, Bourgeois and her teammates cooked a meal for Ronald McDonald House. Through this experience, she saw the impact her team could have on the community. “It was nice that we had a group… We had the resources of twenty-five people and our coaching staff and Varsity Blues program.”

As one of the captains of the field hockey team, I was curious about what Bourgeois thought of her position as captain on the ice and how her leadership role impacted her. She explained that as one of two graduating players, she felt she was in a leadership role anyway since she’d “been around the block a few times.”

For Bourgeois, being captain allowed her to “take on a larger role and responsibility.” She noted that at first it was a bit difficult to strike a manageable balance, “making sure you still take care of yourself while you’re trying to take care of other things, facilitate other people, and other plans.” The opportunity helped her get closer to her teammates, coaches, and support staff while learning about all the work that goes into a successful team.

Over time, Bourgeois became more comfortable wearing the ‘C.’ She added that it’s the thing her parents are most proud of and joked that her dad always tells people, “My daughter is captain of the U of T hockey team.” Even though she appreciates the honour of her title, she said she wouldn’t have done anything differently. “Letter or not, captain or not, I think I would have done the exact same things and still have been just as involved with the team.”

Since I still have two seasons left to play, I asked Bourgeois if she had any advice on making the most of my final seasons with the Blues. She told me never to wish anything away, especially the hard times, “because at the end of the day you would give anything to get back to that.” She explained that sometimes, especially during difficult moments like midterms or fitness testing, it’s easy to just try to get through it. “Appreciate even the things that are tougher to appreciate. Take it all in and soak in as much as you can from the experience and be ready to transition out of it at the end.”

Looking ahead, she’s excited to take her next step. She explained that though she doesn’t like to plan things too heavily, she will be continuing her studies in archaeology at graduate school. She’s “excited to have the time to figure out exactly what [she’s] going to do with [her] life.” Though hockey won’t be the focal point of her week anymore, she will continue to play recreationally.

Bourgeois plans to stay involved with her team even after she graduates, keeping in touch with her teammates, watching games, and visiting on alumni nights. “I know the support I felt from our alumni that I played with. They all came back for my last game and it was really special — I hope I can do that for my teammates in the future.” When asked about a hope she has for her team, she explained that though winning championships would be great, those are superficial wants. Overall, what she really wants for her team is “to be able to live the experience that they want while they’re here.”

On our team, we always say, “You want to leave the team in a better spot than you found it.” Though her team doesn’t express it the same way we do, the desire to make a positive impact was always on her mind. “If you’re there and you’re committed, then you want to make an impact. I think that was my aim and I hope I accomplished it,” she said.

Overall, Bourgeois’ varsity hockey career has been extremely important to her. She achieved her lifelong dream of playing intercollegiate hockey while also discovering all the other things she wants to do. She’s also met “some of [her] best lifelong friends” in what she calls “the most pivotal chunk of [her] life.”

Blues tame Lions

U of T beats York 6-2

Blues tame Lions

In their final home game of the regular season on Friday night, the fourth ranked Varsity Blues women’s hockey team gave the number 11 York Lions a beating in a 6-2 victory at Varsity Arena.

The night began with the Blues honouring four departing fifth-year players: April Looije, Sonja Weidenfelder, Caitlin Mikawa, and Jacqueline Scheffel, who will all be graduating this year.

The mood in the arena shifted after the first period started, as forward Jacquline Scheffel maximized the Blues first power play, beating York’s defensemen and putting her fourth goal of the year past Lions netminder Eva Hall.

Despite having to kill two penalties, the Blues continued to dominate the Lions. They added one more goal before the end of the period, as fourth-year favourite Taylor Day got a hold of defensemen Rebecca Bourgeois’ rebound and buried it in the back door. 

The Lions’ frustration appeared to hit a boiling point in the second period when they earned their first of four penalties, only 49 seconds into the frame. The Blues notched three penalties of their own in the period but came through unscathed, as their penalty kill shut the Lions down.

On their final power play opportunity of the period, Day showed she still had some left in the tank as she effortlessly broke past York’s defense and scored her second of the game and fourteenth of the season. Meagan O’Brien widened the gap to four before the close of the frame as she threw a rocket over the shoulder of York’s rookie goaltender.

Halfway through the third period, second-year forward Lauren Straatman increased the Blues’ lead to five, with an impressive play that beat York goalie on her blocker side.

Despite being down by five, the Lions appeared eager to break the shut-out by pulling their goalie with just over eight minutes left in the period. The pulled goalie added an extra attacker to the York team who were already on a power play, making it six on three. 

The Blues answered the call as their penalty kill remarkably limited the Lions’ chances, while goaltender Yordanov made some incredible saves. Blues’ team captain Kristi Riseley rounded off the scoring with an empty net goal. With less then two minutes remaining, Lions forwards Lauren Cavarzan and Kristen Barbara spoiled the Blues’ shut-out with two quick goals.

The 6-2 victory secured the Blues’ a second place berth in the OUA standings and awarded the team a home ice advantage in the first round of the OUA playoffs.

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